I know you guys are just like me. You have an embarrassing amount of old t-shirts; some you sleep in, some you workout in, some are for running errands or cleaning your house. Some of them date back to 5th grade in the times of t-shirt sale catalogs and are nostalgically adorned with a lion’s head, the solar system, or E = MC 2 with a picture of Einstein. You’ve collected them from childhood sporting events, family reunions, and Planet Hollywoods. You’ve swapped them with friends and even now ironically wear your high school gym shirt, which is cool, hip, and expertly worn in 10 years later. Your t-shirts represent a sacred journey from your youth through adulthood, fondly memorializing childhood milestones, capturing what was cool in high school through graphic tees, and celebrating your Beer Olympics victories in college.
As I was recently cleaning my closets, I realized the horrors of my t-shirt hoarding tendencies. When I clean and organize, I take everything out to refold and put back. Well, with an inordinate amount of shirts comes the inevitable fold and shove or ball and push methods of organization, which means when it came time to properly fold and put away, only about half of them fit.
How I Got Rid of Old T-Shirts with Instagram
So I was faced with a decision: Buy more storage, resolve to the old fold and shove technique, or make some hard decisions and get rid of some shirts. There’s no way I was buying more storage for t-shirts (of all things), the ball and shove method was incompatible with my organizational goal, so that left me with the hard decisions I’ve been faced with countless times over the years. The same old t-shirts stared me in the face – I swear they were taunting me because they knew I could never part with them. The memories, the history, the perfectly worn-in cotton.
As I took a much-needed stress relief break from my dilemma, I browsed my social media sites. I was scrolling through pictures, and that’s when a divine Instagram revelation hit me. I often post my outfit of the day photos and offer little glimpses into my world for my followers to enjoy (maybe?), get inspiration, or perhaps mock. Who knows. But I decided as with all good things in life, it was time to evolve. Nothing good comes from being stagnant, and I realized I was holding onto these t-shirts not because I loved the shirts but because they represented a time in my past that I was having trouble letting go of.
The Instagram test
I decided to come up with an Instagram test to evaluate which items stayed and which items would get donated. Would I be embarrassed to post a picture on Instagram wearing the t-shirt? Bye, nice knowing you.
Would I be embarrassed to post an Instagram picture BUT it is in my top 4 favorite tees? Then you can stay. I could never part with my grey oversized man’s t-shirt that says Arizona (and maybe some sports reference?) that I stole from my brother. It is my favorite. I will never get rid of my high school Walgreens purchase with the text “Proud to be from Elmhurst, Illinois” on it. They had to stay.
Why it’s hard to give them up
Growing up, I had a group of very close friends; aside from my actual sister and best friend, these people were my other sisters. Many of my t-shirts held sacred memories of them, from the innocence of grammar school, the awkwardness of middle school, the too cool for school high school years, and very early college debauchery days. It was extremely difficult for me to accept when we had a falling out; for years, I tried to reach out and mend the broken friendships, and for years I dealt with the heartache of putting myself out there and receiving nothing in return.
Moving on is tough. It can be difficult to deal with change and even harder to move on. While bits and pieces of grammar school, middle school, high school, and college Lindsay still exists in me today, I am not the same Lindsay of my past. I can’t justify holding onto the manufactured nostalgia that lived within the threads of those shirts. I will always hold onto the cherished memories that those tees represented, but I have moved on, and my wardrobe should reflect that.
Like selling your first car, it was emotional to tie up my old t-shirts in garbage bags to give away, but it felt oh so good. My closet and drawers have more space. I can fold my shirts and contain them to just ONE drawer, and barring a few exceptions, my shirts pass my Instagram test.
One of my “adult” goals is to wear pajamas and lounge clothes that look more put together, so I am on my way there. Another one of my “adult” goals is to be kind to everyone but only make space in my close circle for those who know, love, and enjoy me.